Fighting the Imposter Monster

What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster?!

For many people, it can be.

It can freeze clever, capable people into inaction. It can stop people achieving their potential, or even stop them from taking small steps towards achieving that potential.

Imposter Syndrome. Or as I’m now calling it, the Imposter Monster.

Syndrome sounds medical and something to be cured by professionals, probably over a long drawn-out period of time.

It’s a monster, just like the ones under your bed – it’s not something to be scared of, and it can be banished.

Where does it come from?

It manifests in many ways, but generally it’s an unfounded feeling of inadequacy. I’m not good enough, who am I to be doing this, they’re going to find out I’m making it all up as I go along…

You know how some people seem to really have it all together? They know their stuff, have a huge audience, are always offering interesting-sounding services.

If they’re in the same field as us, we compare ourselves to them.

And we think – I can’t compare to them! No-one’s ever going to work with me, when they could work with them.

Are you sure? Have you checked?

How do you know that they know their stuff; have you done all their courses?

They might have a big audience, but how many many of them actually read their posts and emails? How many actual customers do they have? Do they have repeat customers? Do people genuinely like them?

Of course their advertising sounds like ‘I’m awesome!’ – that’s the point of it!

I hadn’t checked…

Several years ago I had a session with a business coach.

After talking about what I did for some while, we discussed my marketing plan.

I was adamant that I didn’t want to advertise my services in the city. There was a consultant in the city with a huge reputation and massive audience, offering loads of courses similar to my services. I couldn’t compete with that, and refused to waste my energy on trying to.

The coach knew the other consultant. “I reckon you know your stuff better than he does” he said. “And besides, who else offers things the exact same way as you do?”

Hmm…

This was what I needed to hear, to break down the brick wall I’d built up.

I realised – I had no idea how good the other consultant’s courses were, I’d never done them. But a lot of people said he was very good so I believed them. Then I looked into that more – there were a small number of very loud voices championing him, not the huge numbers I thought there were. Then I spoke to someone who’d worked with him. “Never again” he said. Oh.


Do a proper check – you might be surprised!

Who do you compare yourself to? Watch one of their webinars, and make notes.

– When you find yourself nodding ‘yes, I’d say that if this was my presentation’, write that down.

– When you find yourself scrunching up your face and thinking ‘oh no, I wouldn’t do it like that’, write that down.

At the end, go back over your notes.

– Every instance of ‘I’d say that!’ means you’re as good as them.

– Every instance of ‘I wouldn’t do it like that’ means you’re different from them. Different is good.

So now, consider – what’s actually the difference between you and them? Are they really better?

Or are they a monster you’ve built up in your head?